California Bing cherry growers are predicting an excellent crop in terms of quality and quantity this year.

Jim Culbertson, executive manager of the California Cherry Advisory Board, said: "Ideal chill hours this winter, favourable bloom, and a solid fruit set indicate available volumes should return to normal this year.

The first of the large, dark red cherries should arrive in the UK by 18 May - about a month later than early Californian cherries. Culbertson said there would be plenty of fruit for retail promotions.

"We will be giving British shoppers a chance to taste the fruit in-store. Our campaign will also include a consumer public relations programme to highlight the fruit's health benefits."

The cherries are low in calories and contain no fat. Studies have shown they contain high levels of potassium and vitamins B and C.

"The Californian growers have been sending the Bings for more than a decade and have built up a cult following," he said.